GEN.35:1-5 AND EXODUS 33:1-6
Some use the above scriptures to try and prove either, that
God does not want His children to adorn themselves with jewelry,
or that in order to come before God to worship Him in Spirit and
in Truth, one must put away all jewelry from off their body and
I have had personal experience with groups of people and
different church organizations that teach their members to avoid
the use of jewelry items such as rings, necklaces, bracelets,
broaches, decorative pins, and other things that could be
considered purely decorative and cosmetic. It is interesting to
see how some of the ladies in these groups will push the limit of
the line set for them by the elders(usually men) of their
denomination. Some will have a clasp holding their blouse
together, it will be quite decorative but it is not really just
for decoration, but serves to hold things together, so it
would seem they are allowed to have it. Then other ladies will
"go to town" on wearing bright colored clothes with a fancy belt,
but the clothes and skirt belt are not really decoration(so it is
argued) and this is then approved, or at least the elders do not
tell them they cannot have such clothing and belts.
I have seen some women with very decorative shoes, silver or
gold etc. buttons or straps on them, and nothing said because,
well, shoes are not really decoration, but a necessity. Then I've
seen some of the brightest eye catching headgear on the ladies
of the "no jewelry" churches. Many of them have gold and silver
ornamented wrist watches, because, well, watches are not really
decoration are they? They will not wear ear-rings but will hold
their dress scarf around their neck together with a flamboyant,
very ornate, clasp of some kind, because, well........you already
know what comes next.
Some of these same people will not go to a "movie house"
even if a Walt Disney picture is showing, because, movie houses
are "sin" but they will allow the TV to be pounding out anything
their children wish to view. I've been there I've seen it all.
Then again some of the "no jewelry" groups also are "no TV" as
Some congregations dress and look very plain and even drab
in their personal appearance, but their church building or their
homes are far from being "drab" - decorated with bright colors,
ornamentation, fancy stained glass windows, anything but plain
lighting fixtures and carpeting.
Well back to our main study for this time around and the two
sections of scripture we are going to look at in-depth. The first
one is Genesis 35:1-5.
We need to remember that in any study we must be willing to
find ALL the scriptures on the subject we are studying, from
Genesis to Revelation. In this study on jewelry we shall then
find many verses that use jewelry in a very positive light. We
shall find many verses where God's people used and did wear
various types of jewelry decoration with God's blessing and
approval, with no condemnation whatsoever. This we have seen in
earlier studies on this topic of women's adornment.
So when and if we come across a scripture that seems to
indicate a negative view towards jewelry, we need to immediately
begin to stop, to meditate, to "come let us reason together says
the Lord" and realize God does not contradict Him. He does not
send forth both sweet and bitter water at the same time. He is
not "two-faced" nor does He have a doubt standard. He does not
want us to read the Bible with "horse blinkers" over our eyes,
only seeing certain verses while not seeing or ignoring other
verses. For that kind of Bible reading will indeed lead you to
fulfil the saying that goes "anybody can prove anything from the
We have much doctrinal disunity today in the churches at
large(all Christian churches) because of this very thing - a
blinker type reading of the Bible, just pick out what you want
from the Bible and ignore the rest of what God says on the
To understand a verse of scripture we must also be willing
to read the setting, the context it is within, sometimes a whole
chapter or more leading up to the verse in question. We sometimes
have to look at the historical background and setting the verse
in framed in to understand it correctly.
All of this we will now do with Genesis 35:1-5. I will quote
quite extensively from two very popular and famous Bible
Commentaries - Adam Clarke and the commentary by Jamieson,
First from the latter Commentary, volume one, pages 222,
223. All emphasis is mine throughout.
" 1. God said unto Jacob, Arise, etc. ......The disgraceful
and perilous events that had recently taken place in the
patriarch's family must have produced in him a strong desire to
remove without delay from the vicinity of Shechem. Borne down by
an overwhelming sense of the criminality of his two sons - of the
offense they had given to God, and the dishonor they had brought
on the true faith - .......he must have felt this call as
affording a great relief to his afflicted feelings. At the SAME
TIME it conveyed a TENDER REBUKE. Go up to Bethel, etc. Bethel
was about thirty miles south of Shechem......There, he would not
only be released from the painful associations of the latter
place, but be established on a spot, that would revive the most
delightful and sublime recollections........make....an altar unto
God, that appeared. It too frequently happens that early
impressions are effaced through lapse of time - that promises
made in seasons of distress are forgotten.....Jacob was LYING
UNDER THAT CHARGE. He had FALLEN INTO SPIRITUAL INDOLENCE. It was
now eight or ten years since his return to Canaan. He had
effected a comfortable settlement; and had acknowledged the
Divine mercies by which that return and settlement had been
signally distinguished (cf. ch. 33:20). But for some unrecorded
reason, his EARLY VOW AT BETHEL (see on ch. 28:22), made thirty
years before, in a great crisis of his life, REMAINED
UNPERFORMED. The Lord appeared now, to remind him of his
neglected duty - in terms, however so mild, as awakened less the
memory of his faults, than of the kindness of his heavenly
Guardian......2. then Jacob said unto his household.....Put away
the strange gods - Hebrew, gods of the stranger - of foreign
nations (cf. Josh.24:20, 23; Deut.30:11, 12; .....where the word
occurs in the singular). Besides the IDOLS WHICH WOULD BE GOT
AMONGST THE PLUNDER OF SHECHEM, Jacob had brought, in this
service, a number of Mesopotamian RETAINERS, who were ADDICTED
TO SUPERSTITIOUS PRACTICES;........He might have been TOO
NEGLIGENT HITHERTO IN WINKING AT THESE EVILS IN HIS SERVANTS; OR,
PERHAPS, it was not till his arrival in Canaan that he had
learned, for the first time, that one nearer and dearer to
him, was SECRETLY INFECTED WITH THE SAME CORRUPTION(vv.31,34). Be
that as it may, he resolved to an immediate and thorough
reformation of his household; and in commanding them to put away
their strange gods, he added, 'be clean, and change your
garments,' as if some defilement, from contact with idolatry,
should still remain about them. In the law of Moses many
ceremonial purifications were ordained, and observed by persons
who had contacted certain defilements, and without the observance
of which, they were reckoned unclean and unfit to join in the
social worship of God (Lev.14:4; Num.8:7; Ezra 6:20; Neh.12:30;
13:22)........4. they gave....all the strange
gods....and.....earrings - strange gods - the TERAPHIM
(cf.31:30,34) as well, perhaps, as other IDOLS GOT AMONGST THE
SHECHEMITE SPOIL......earrings of various forms, sizes, and
materials, which are UNIVERSALLY WORN IN THE EAST, AND THEN
AS NOW CONNECTED WITH INCANTATION AND IDOLATRY. SOME OF THOSE
EARRINGS, WHICH ARE USED AS TALISMANS OR AMULETS, HAVE FIGURES
AND MYSTIC CHARACTERS ENGRAVED UPON THEM (cf Hos.2:13).....Jacob
hid them under the oak - or terebinth, a towering tree......He
hid the IMAGES and AMULETS, delivered to him by his Mesopotamian
dependants, at the root of this tree. The TEREBINTH, being
remarkable for longevity, was often employed as a landmark....
Moreover, being, like the oak, deemed a consecrated tree
(Josh.24:26), to bury the IDOLATROUS OBJECTS at its roots was to
deposit them in a place where no bold hand would venture to
disturb the ground; and hence it was called from this
circumstance - ' THE PLAIN OF MEONENIM ' - i.e., THE OAK OF
ENCHANTMENTS (Judg.9:37); and from the great stone which Joshua
set up - ' the oak of the pillar ' (Judg.9:6)......."
End of quote.
Aaaahhhh, do you see the whole context ? Do you see the
history behind all this? This was nothing to do with God hating
jewelry per se! This was nothing to do with the Lord hating His
people adorning themselves with jewelry. This was nothing to do
with God trying to tell Jacob or US today that in order to
worship God in "spirit and in truth" one must "put away" all
jewelry decorations from their clothes and body!
This section of scripture does NOT CONTRADICT all the other
positive verses in the Bible concerning God's people wearing
jewelry. These verses to no contradict what we read about in
EZEKIEL 16 where God uses jewelry to likening how He found
Israel, washed her clean, perfumed and oiled her, dressed her in
the finest linen and clothes, and decorated her with all manner
of jewels, and made her so beautiful that all nations were
impressed and awed by her beauty.
As Jesus said: "the scriptures cannot be broken!" What a
thrill, what a joy my friends to know that absolute truth. God's
word does not contradict itself, God does not send out sweet
water and bitter water at the same time.
Man may pull out certain verses from the Bible, twist them,
interpret them into false doctrines, cause many to err and be led
astray, cause many to believe their outward form of show or "no
show" in physical appearance, is somehow more righteous and mor
holy than the next fellow, many may do this, but let God be true
though every man a liar. Men may have the consent and
acquiescence and endorsement of other men as to their books
they write trying to prove God's word says this or that, when it
does not, but the plain truth is available to those who will
search the scriptures daily to see if those things be so.
You can know the truth and the truth will set you free from
the errors of men and women who come telling you God has spoken,
when God did not send them, neither did He speak to them.
Now let's see what truth Adam Clarke gave to us concerning
this passage in Genesis 35.
" Verse 1. Arise, go to Bethel. The transaction that had
lately taken place rendered it unsafe for Jacob to dwell any
longer at the city of Shechem; and it seems that while he was
reflecting on the horrible act of Simeon and Levi, and not do,
God graciously appeared to him, and commanded him to go to
Bethel, build an altar there, and thus perform the vow he had
made, chap.28:20, 22.
Verse 2. Put away the strange gods......elochey hannechar,
the gods of the foreigners, which were among them. Jacob's
servants were all Syrians, and no doubt were addicted less or
more to idolatry and superstition. THESE GODS MIGHT BELONG
TO THEM, OR AS SOME HAVE CONJECTURED, THEY WERE THE TERAPHIM
WHICH RACHEL STOLE.......but it is more natural to suppose that
these gods found now in Jacob's family were the IMAGES OF SILVER,
GOLD, OR CURIOUS WORKMANSHIP, WHICH WERE FOUND AMONG THE SPOILS
OF THE CITY OF SHECHEM. LEST THESE SHOULD BECOME INCITEMENTS TO
IDOLATRY, JACOB ORDERS THEM TO BE PUT AWAY.
Be clean, and change your garments.......In many cases the
law of Moses more solemnly enjoined rites and ceremonies which
had been in use from the earliest ages.......
Verse 4. And - ear-rings which were in their ears. Whether
these rings were in the ears of the gods, or in those of Jacob's
family, we may rest assured that they were NOT MERE ORNAMENTS,
BUT SERVED FOR SUPERSTITIOUS PURPOSES. Ear-rings were certainly
worn as amulets and charms, first consecrated to some god, or
formed under some constellation, on which magical characters and
images were drawn. A very ancient and beautiful one of this kind
brought from Egypt, cut out of a solid piece of cornelian, now
lies before me. It was evidently intended for the ear, as the
opening is too small for any human finger; and it is engraved all
over with strange characters and images, which prove it was
intended for a talisman or amulet. It seems to be such a one
as St.Augustine describes, Epist.73, which was suspended from
the tip of the ears both of men and women, not for the purpose of
ornament, but through an execrable superstition, for the service
End of quote.
Even without all this fine amplified commentary from the
above "scholars" of Biblical Theology, the very context should
tell us what this was all about. The words "strange gods" give us
the sense of what was going on here in Jacob's family and all
under his authority and care. Many in his household had wandered
off into idolatry and the worship of false strange gods of the na
decking themselves with the superstitious charms, lucky this and
lucky that clothes and jewels, used by the pagans in their
affections towards their demonic gods. Jacob had allowed his
household to fall into idolatry. He was not as close to the Lord
as he should have been. Simeon and Levi had done much evil. It
was time to repent and get back to serving the Lord with a full
and clean heart. God was having mercy upon him. He was
giving him a chance to make things right, to perform the oath and
vow he had once promised. God was taking him back to Bethel where
a fresh clean righteous start could be made. So all the physical
things connected with idolatrous devil worship was to be put
away. This Jacob was willing to do, and so commanded his
This section of scripture has nothing to do with the
RIGHTEOUS USE OF JEWELRY FOR A DECORATION ON THE CLOTHES AND BODY
OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD!!
First, I want you to read back into the context of this
passage. We can start in chapter 32. Here we see that the people
were wearing jewelry! Note verse 2. Oh, yes they were going to
put these jewels to an evil use and for an idolatrous purpose,
but BEFORE this idea came into their minds, they were obviously
wearing jewelry. Now if jewelry per se was so evil and
unrighteous and just "not very holy" to God, if it was something
He abhorred as being "vain" and "showy." Something that was too
much of "this world" and too much like the heathen and
unconverted nations around that did not "know" the true God and
His likes of a bland, dull, drab, of dress for His worshippers,
THEN WHY TELL ME HAD GOD NOT CORRECTED THEM ABOUT THIS MATTER
WHEN HE WAS GIVING THE LAWS OF THE COVENANT TO THEM(back in
chapters 20 - 23). Using simple logic, the Israelites had to
this point NO IDEA that the wearing of jewelry was evil, sin, or
just not quite "righteous."
Go back a little further into the context. Say about chapter
25. God instructs them to build Him a TABERNACLE TO DWELL IN, and
all things in the tabernacle. Start to read. The furniture for
in verses 10-40, the curtains in chapter 26:1-14, the Tabernacle
frames in verses 15-30, the vail for the ark in verses 31-37, the
altar in chapter 27:1-8, the court of the Tabernacle in verses
Now beginning in chapter 28 we see the instructions for
making the CLOTHES for the Priesthood.
Read it all my friends! Let its words sink in deep, you may
want to mark some of them. Say verses 4, 5, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15-21,
THE CLOTHES FOR AARON WAS FOR GLORY AND BEAUTY!!! See
chapter 28:2. His clothes were ANYTHING BUT DRAB, PLAIN OR DULL!
They were anything but colorless. They were anything but lacking
No wonder God had said NOTHING to the people of Israel about
"color and jewelry" being evil, sin, unholy, unrighteous, and an
abomination for them to have on their clothes or body in
So what is all this about in chapter 33:1-6? Read back
again into chapter 32. A GREAT EVIL had been done by the people,
in making a golden calf to worship it as if it was God and not
God being God.
Now hold it there for a moment. I want to ask a question.
You Christian ladies who do believe in wearing jewelry, do you do
it for "vanity" reasons, or to "be noticed" so every eye will
turn to look at you? Or is it that when you have nice
undergarments on, nice over-garments on in form of dresses,
skirts, blouses etc. when you have nice shoes on, when your hair
is shaped nicely, have some perfume on, and a little jewelry, you
FEEL GOOD! It is just very pleasant for you and it is very
pleasant for the rest of us. The world is full of God's
decorations in many forms, shapes, colors, and jewels, so it is
not boring, dull, or drab. And God's creation is built with
decoration changes from time to time. You like to dress nicely
with some decoration because it just feels "good" pure and
simple. Who wants to feel and look like they have been lost out
in the jungle for a month? Who in the world wants to see anyone
looking like they have been lost in the back woods for a month?
Who wants to look and feel like they have as my mother would say
"been pulled through a hedge backwards" ?
Now, here's another question, It's on the way back to Ex.33,
but this all helps explain it.
Do you dress going to your wedding(the conventional full
gown type I'm thinking) with your gardening clothes on? No, you
do not. If you are a spectator at a wedding, do you dress for it
and attend with your sleeping clothes on? I think not. If going
to a music recital in a fancy building with the President of the
USA there, or say Queen Elizabeth, will you go dressed in your
mechanic or bakery clothes? No, I do not think so. If attending
a funeral will you go dressed in your beach party clothes with a
towel thrown over your shoulder? No you will not.
I go dressed in all my cowboy finery, fancy colorful shirt,
with silver collar clips, carved leather belt with a big
decorative buckle, a decorative neck tie with a jewel clasp,
and some boots that have silver toe and heel plates. I feel good
in that outfit, it fits the situation, as all the men will be
dressed in somewhat the same way. The ladies will have all their
fancy square dance dresses on. It is the right clothing for the
right time and situation.
Such clothing and jewelry makes you feel fine and dandy, it
is uplifting and enjoyable.
Jewelry is usually worn to make you feel good and to lift
the spirits. It is festive stuff, to help set the festive time,
and rejoice the inner spirit. It is usually worn when happy and
carefree, when wanting to rejoice. People do not usually wear
much if any jewelry when attending a funeral.
There is as Solomon was inspired to write, a time and place
for everything under the sun. A time to laugh, a time to cry, a
time to work, a time to sleep, a time to sing, a time not to
sing, a time to play, a time to rest, a time...... to wear
jewelry and a time to not wear jewelry!
Ah, now are you beginning to see the answer to Exodus
33:1-6? The Israelites had just committed a GREAT SIN in chapter
32. The Lord had PLAGUED them! (verse 35). This was no laughing
matter! This was no festive time! This was no time to square
dance the barn down! This was no wedding time! This was no time
for going to the circus and having fun and laughter! This was no
warm sunny afternoon beach party down in southern Florida in the
middle of the winter!
There is a time and place for everything. Their is a time
and place for the wearing of jewelry, BUT THIS WAS NOT THE TIME
NOR WAS IT THE PLACE!!
When they heard from God concerning this matter, they were
not in any happy mood or festive mind set I can tell you. It is
written: "THEY MOURNED, AND NO MAN PUT ON HIS ORNAMENTS."
They were at a funeral not a wedding this time around. And
they sure were not going to dress as if they were going to attend
the local country square dance jamboree, or "evening at the Pops
with...." whoever was conducting the concert of joy and
This was no time to be happy, up-beat, to be singing in the rain,
nor the sound of music. It was a time to be singing the blues if
any singing was to be done.
God knew there was a time and place for everything under the
sun. He knew it was a time for them to "put off your ornaments,
so I may know what to do with you."
When in Rome they say, do as the Romans. God was in no
festive mood, it was not the time for decorations. So the people
did as the Lord told them to do.
But did the people of Israel after this was all over NEVER
AGAIN wear jewelry? The rest of the Bible says and proves THEY
SURE DID! And with God's blessing and approval a lot of the
times. Certainly we see individual people of God wearing jewelry
without any condemnation from God, MANY times after this incident
in Exodus 33.
There it is, the truth of the matter concerning these two
often used and often misapplied sections of scripture.
Truly the truth will set you FREE!!
Written February 1997
All studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published, and
distributed as led by the Spirit. Keith trusts nothing with be
changed (except for spelling and punctuation errors) without his